Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another,
love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: I Peter 3:8
The Skin You're In
The timeline has come to everyone's facebook page now whether they want it or not. The time has come. Timeline is a new format that allows one to easily go back and see what was posted last year or the year before on a certain day etc. I got my timeline and looked back to see that my very first post on fb in October of 2009 was work-related. Seems I got off work early that day because of rain. The post wasn't memorable but obvious a happy one for it ended with the words, "I love the rain!" The first post of mine of any depth to make the reader stop and think was posted on October 19th of 2009: "Real compassion is the capacity for feeling what it is like to live inside someone else's skin, even when in that skin is not a good place to be."
The same day that I had looked back to see this post I was called to live out the post. I often go by Dollar General on my way home from work. I get off at 9 and Dollar General conveniently stays open till 10. I pulled up and parked and saw a man with long gray hair and a long gray beard pacing up and down the sidewalk. He was talking loudly to himself I thought at first, but soon realized he thought he was having a conversation with someone that only he could see. He was agitated and disturbed and arguing loudly with the person. It seems his lighter was gone that he needed to light his last cigarette. This person he talked to had lost his lighter.
I got out of my car as he was walking in the door of the store. He approached the checker and asked for a lighter. She told them they had them for sale, but she didn't have one herself. He had no money. The man got even more upset and ranted and raved and cursed loudly. The customers all stopped to stare. Some simply ignored him, while others took action to distance themselves from him. A mother picked her child up and held him tightly. The manager of the store, a lady, came and asked him to leave. He did after saying to his imaginary enemy, "See what you've done, you will be sorry." The manager shook her head and called the police as the man continued to pace on the sidewalk in front of the store.
All the ladies who had checked outstayed inside with their purchases fearful to go out until the police arrived. There was one older gentleman in the store shopping who offered to escort the ladies to their cars. A couple did and a couple remained inside waiting for law officers to come and I suppose to take the man away. I paid for my purchases as the second group of ladies were being escorted out by the older gentleman. I followed them out and walked toward my car. As I did I passed in front of the agitated man who not looking at me at all, but up towards the sky, told his imaginary friend, "I'm gonna get you!"
I have had a great fear of many things in the past such as tornados, snakes, and closed in spaces, but people with mental problems not so much I guess. I stopped and said, "God bless you" before I got in my car. He never acknowledged me but kept talking to the person that had taken his lighter. He seemed to be in such torment.
I prayed for him as I got in my car and thought of the demoniac we read of in the Gospels who Jesus delivered.
Mark 5:1 And they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes. 2 And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, 3 Who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains: 4 Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him. 5 And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones
What did Jesus do? Did he fear him? Did he call for law enforcement officials? Did he shake his head and walk away? No, He sent the demons into a herd of swine nearby and the man was later found clothed and in his right mind. The man asked if he could go with Jesus but Jesus told him, "No." I noticed that Jesus described what He had done for the man not as an exorcism of demons, but as having compassion on the man.
19 Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee.
We are all called to be like Jesus. We are told that in His name we will have the power to cast out devils, but before we can do this, the first thing we must do is show compassion as Jesus did. And what did that facebook post say real compassion is? "Real compassion is the capacity for feeling what it is like to live inside someone else's skin, even when in that skin is not a good place to be."
I surely would never want to live inside this tormented man's skin and pray I never experience such distress, but God did grant me the capacity to feel what he felt. He felt no peace. He felt no love. He saw no end in sight to an endless nightmare in his mind. He felt misery and hopelessness. He felt friendless, betrayed, and abandoned.
The prayer I prayed was for him to find the peace, hope, and love of Christ. I prayed for him to have the mind of Christ whole and healed. I prayed that He would find the best friend anyone could ever have, the LIGHT of the world, Jesus.
The next time you see someone unwanted and alone pray to have true compassion for them.
Allow yourself to feel what it is like to live in their skin, even when that skin is not a good place to be.